Archive for differentiation

Differentiate or Die in a Downturn

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , , on August 13, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Differentiate your businessWhen money gets tighter, people get pickier. Which means, if want to continue to not only survive, but thrive, you’re going to need to dig a bit more deeply into the differentiation well and publicly showcase why you are the woman, man or business that people should be handing their money over to.

Perfect example. Walking down the block looking for a place to grab lunch with my wife on a weekday, we passed 7 or 8 restaurants and every single one was close to being empty. Then we poked our heads into the local pub. We’d never been there before. And, it was packed.

Not because people were drinking their troubles away. They were all sitting and eating. And, 75% were moms in their 30s and 40s. Whaaa?

It wasn’t long until we figured out what was going on. This little pub had figured out a way to shine, while all the restaurants around them stumbled. Along with their standard menu, we were each given a long, 6 inch wide piece of paper and a red pen.

On the paper were about 50 different options for chopped salad mix-ins. We each sat choosing our salad items and, a few minutes later, two giant finely-chopped salads arrived at our table. We dove in, couldn’t finish either and reveled about how we never about this hidden salad gem before. But, clearly others had.

Since then, this little grill has become our go-to place for taking out, ordering in and the occasional dinner with friends, family style.

Because … they get it.

People are looking for value more than at any other time in decades. And, if you can’t strongly differentiate yourself, you and your business become fungible … replaceable … interchangeable.

And, that’s an awful place to be in a down economy.

So, how will you differentiate and showcase your unique value in 2009?

* * * * *

Jonathan Fields, hedge-fund lawyer turned lifestyle entrepreneurAbout the Author: Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade. His next book, also called Career Renegade, is due out from Random House/Broadway Books In January 2009.


Remember more – differentiate yourself

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , on June 18, 2010 by virtualcitypa

We are all guilty of going to networking events and meetings where you are introduced to new people and “bang” – you’ve forgotten their name… It’s a classic situation – yet with so much to memorise it really is possible to improve how much you can remember.

The key idea is that by coding information using vivid mental images, you can reliably code both information and the structure of information. And because the images are vivid, they are easy to recall when you need them.

You can do the following things to make things more memorable:

  • Use positive, pleasant images. Your brain often blocks out unpleasant ones
  • Use vivid, colorful, sense-laden images – these are easier to remember than drab ones
  • Use all your senses to code information or dress up an image. Remember that your mnemonic * can contain sounds, smells, tastes, touch, movements and feelings as well as pictures.
  • Give your image three dimensions, movement and space to make it more vivid. You can use movement either to maintain the flow of association, or to help you to remember actions.
  • Exaggerate the size of important parts of the image
  • Use humour! Funny or peculiar things are easier to remember than normal ones.
  • Similarly, rude rhymes are very difficult to forget!
  • Symbols (red traffic lights, pointing fingers, road signs, etc.) can code quite complex messages quickly and effectively

* ‘Mnemonic’ is another word for memory tool. Mnemonics are techniques for remembering information that is otherwise quite difficult to recall: A very simple example is the ’30 days hath September’ rhyme for remembering the number of days in each calendar month.

The idea behind using mnemonics is to encode difficult-to-remember information in a way that is much easier to remember.

The full article goes into further depth at

Quality management standards: ISO 9001:2008

Posted in Office Management with tags , , on October 5, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Once you business has established itself and you are ready to take your organisation to the next level, the website gives excellent advice on getting your business recognised with ISO standards.

ISO 9001:2008 is the key internationally agreed standard for quality management systems. It is used by over 750,000 businesses in 161 countries worldwide.

The ISO 9001 standard has four elements:

management responsibility – ensuring top level management shows commitment to the quality system and develops it according to customers’ needs and the business’ objectives

resource management – ensuring the people, infrastructure and work environment needed to implement and improve quality systems are in place

product realisation – delivering what customers want, looking at areas such as sales processes, design and development, purchasing, production or service activities

measurement, analysis and improvement – checking whether you have satisfied customers by carrying out other measurements of your system’s effectiveness

The advantages of ISO 9001:2008 for your business can include:

  • greater efficiency and less waste
  • consistent control of major business processes
  • regulation of successful working practices
  • risk management
  • increased customer satisfaction
  • greater consistency in the quality of products and services through better control of processes
  • differentiation of your business from its competitors
  • increased profits
  • exploitation of new markets, both in the UK and overseas

However, you should also be aware of some of the disadvantages to implementing the standard. These can include:

  • the cost of getting and keeping the certification
  • the time involved
  • overcoming opposition to implementing change from within the business

The standard is adaptable to your business’ needs and resources, though you may need the help of a consultant.

ISO 9001:2008 can also be used in conjunction with ISO 9004:2000 to improve your organisational efficiency.